Medical syringe is seen with Johnson & Johnson company logo displayed on a screen in the background in this illustration photo taken in Poland on June 16, 2020.

Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said it expects to begin a late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine in late September, ahead of schedule.

The company is in talks with the National Institutes of Health to move up the timeline for the trial, J&J’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said during an earnings call with investors Thursday. The company announced earlier in the day that it plans to enter a phase one human trial next week, which will include  more than 1,000 participants.

The company is also planning a phase two study in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, he said.

J&J is one of several companies working on a potential vaccine for Covid-19, which has infected more than 13 million people worldwide and killed at least 584,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 100 vaccines are under development, according to the World Health Organization. At least 23 are already in human trials, the WHO said.

On Tuesday, biotech firm Moderna released promising data on its potential coronavirus vaccine trial, saying it generated a “robust” immune response. 

J&J said it is using the same technologies it used to make its experimental Ebola vaccine, which was provided to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2019. It involves combing genetic material from the coronavirus with a modified adenovirus that is known to cause common colds in humans.

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The company has previously said it could produce 600 million to 900 million doses by April if the vaccine works well. 

The comment by Stoffels came after the company said in an earnings release that its second-quarter profit slid 35% from a year earlier as the coronavirus forced hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, hitting the company’s medical device business hard.

It said it earned $3.63 billion, or $1.36 per share, during the three months ended June 30, a 34.6% drop from $5.6 billion a year earlier as sales in its medical device unit fell. The decline in its medical device unit was partially offset by higher sales for its over-the-counter consumer products such as Tylenol and its Listerine mouthwash. 

Overall, the company beat earnings expectations, reporting adjusted earnings of $1.67 per share, higher than the $1.49 per share projected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. The company generated $18.3 billion in revenue, higher than the $17.6 billion expected but a 10% decline from a year earlier. 

Shares of J&J were down fractionally in early trading Thursday.